Metaphors and similes are an imaginative galaxy which greater minds than mine have explored. That doesn’t stop me gathering dazzling and original examples to enliven human exchange, expanding the choice of vigorous, beautiful ways to sharpen how we think, read, write and speak.

Pecking up crumbs

Pecking up crumbs

A young girl keeps her expectations low, grateful for what little she has, yet aware that she resembles a bird which in a more abundant season wouldn't be so humble. ... yet I was glad of what I had, as a winter bird is, that will come to your hand for a little crumb,...

And now for the news

And now for the news

A vivid image of a girl running to bring the latest news, like a French frigate sailing in. Beguildy came panting after, apron flying, and loaded with news, like one of the French frigates folk tell of.  Source: Mary Webb, Precious Bane (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981),...

As silent as … (III)

As silent as … (III)

Blackbirds, as anyone who has been woken by their loud, hearty and varied song early on a summer's day, knows these birds aren't quiet in the mating season.  But in winter perhaps they keep their heads down in search of food and shelter, pending the weather made for...

A remembered voice

A remembered voice

After losing her mother, a daughter recalls her voice and finds the memory catching at her heart the way bedstraw does.  It's only a few years since I started identifying this humble and varied wild flower, which indeed has a leaf texture which would catch on clothing...

Boughs uplifting

Boughs uplifting

A novel simile for a gentle breeze soughing the branches until they rise and fall like waves. There was only the evening wind lifting the boughs, like a lover lifting his maid's long hair. Source: Mary Webb, Precious Bane (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981), p. 271Photo...

A predatory gaze

A predatory gaze

A penetrating gaze likened to the steadfast unblinking focus of an owl about to swoop for its targetted lunch.  I had someone look at me like that once, and I made a pretty fast exit.  It never happened again.  Felena's eyes settled on him as a brown owl drops to its...

Someday the history of metaphor will be written and we shall at last grasp all the truths and misconceptions in which this intensely speculative subject abounds.  

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 45

Fallen pieces of the moon

A haunting way to think of icebergs, moon-pieces fallen from the sky.  Especially when lit at night by their mother-ship's beams.

'Icebergs … fallen pieces of the moon.'

See also...

Like the lowing of a cow

Nature's hoarse summer voice?  Wind shuffling leaves and crickets rubbing hands together?  I like the metaphor, but nevertheless can't quite capture what it is.

'Nature has found her hoarse summer...

Difficulty

Ever had that feeling? May it dissolve and pass, fast.

‘Writing was difficult; the words came as painfully as kidney stones.’

Source: Obituary of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Economist, 26...

Solti’s stick

In a tick, you are taken from ancient Troy to a contemporary concert hall, and the magical, electrifying instant when a great conductor poises before bringing down his baton to...

Hollow like …

Did you ever think of the sky as being hollow?  I like the image of its domed roundness as the inside of a mussel shell.

'At midnight the western sky...

Varied like an ocean floor

And the more we learn about the ocean floor, the better it seems as a metaphor for variety.  Curious to think of Virginia Woolf using this since so much less...

Of merry audacious jays

Two fine metaphors here, describing the nature and the cry of jays, though the first of these is by now no doubt politically incorrect. I like also the 'noise of...

As relaxing as …

Casaubon is a serious-minded studious individual pursuing research so recondite that only he really understands why he's doing it. When his doctor tells him he needs to let up and...

As poor as…

Never thought of rats as being poor, but I like the simile, more compelling than the standard 'as poor as a church mouse'.  At least the mouse has a big...

Plump as…

Another one that deserves to enter daily speech – it conjures a sturdy pottery beer mug served in an 18th century English tavern with a roaring fire.

See also the 

Voices like the smell of cooking

You can hear the insistent but indefinite sound of speech penetrating the flimsy walls of a badly built tenement like an ineradicable accumulation of cooking smells.  This isn't the only...

How many lifetimes does it take to learn the facts of life?  

(And how long do you have to live to recover from them…?) 

Is it fact that helps us recover – or is it metaphor?  

Source: Molly Peacock,The Paper Garden (London: Bloomsbury, 2012), p. 63 – click here for the bestellar review of this glorious book.

The thinker, with his metaphors, will illuminate the external world through intangible ideas that for him are intimate and immediate.   

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 6

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